“Read your bible, pray everyday” was a famous Sunday school chorus we learnt growing up. We not only sang it faithfully, we ardently tried to follow it to the letter, most often completely missing the point of the song.
So, although I was pretty regular doing my quiet time as a child, I did it mostly to check it off my list. Only during my masters degree program did I really understand what it was to enjoy my quiet time. It was during my time away from home, when I was pushed out of my comfort zone, that I understood the value of God’s word and the wealth of treasure I held in my lap.
Two significant things happened at that time that completely changed my view about quiet time from one of drudgery, to one of absolute enjoyment. First, I discovered the art of journaling. I began jotting down simple things that I learned from my quiet time. When I went back and read those verses and notes they really encouraged me. Second, one of my sponsors in seminary, gifted me a beautiful NIV Life Application Study Bible (which I still use to this day). I felt like a child with a new toy. I started rediscovering timeless truths from the bible. I began studying the bible and I began to enjoy what I was doing. Quiet time was not a point I checked off on my to-do list but a time I longed to spend with my Creator.
Here are a few tips that have helped me enjoy my walk with the Lord:
1) Favourite spot – I am a creature of habit and usually like to do certain things a certain way. Every time we shift houses I pick a favourite spot in the hall (living room). There is one particular couch that I like to sit on. That becomes my quiet time couch. (I specifically pick the hall because I have found myself falling asleep when I chose to do my quiet time in the bedroom.)
2) Favourite drink – I usually like to sit with a cup of hot herbal tea. It seems to wake me up and soothe me all at once.
3) Pick a time – Before my kids came along I would do my quiet time first thing in the morning but these days I do it right after they’ve all left for school. Personally, since I’m a morning person I enjoy doing my quiet time in the morning rather than in the night, because by the time 6 PM comes along I’m ready to call it a day. So choose whatever time works best for you, just try to be consistent with it.
4) Study Bible – Using a good study bible really helps. Of course there is so much help online to look up references and study, but I prefer a hard copy bible where I can mark and underline and make notes. Not everyone has commentaries handy on their book shelves, so I feel a study bible is a good tool to have in the house to add depth to your reading. Trust me, it makes quiet time so enjoyable!
5) Colour pens/pencils – I like marking different things in my bible with different colours. For example I would mark all the promises in pink and all the commands to obey in green and lessons I learned in yellow. So even if I went back to my bible years later I knew exactly why I had marked out those verses.
6) Journal – For the last three years our church has been encouraging us to use the Community Bible Reading (CBR) journal. I have enjoyed using this journal. The plan is to finish reading and studying the bible in three years time using the journal. The passage for the day is mentioned and the pages are brilliantly marked out for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication points. There is also space to write out lessons you’ve learned. Using this journal has made me more intentional and systematic about my quiet time and has made the experience very enjoyable. There have been many lessons that I have learned and re-learned these last three years. Every time I have felt low or sad I flip through the pages of my quiet time journal and see how God has been faithful to me in the past.
Having said all this, I have to confess that I don’t do my quiet time everyday. There are days that I miss. But when I do miss a day or two, it’s not out of guilt that I pick up my bible again, but out of this deep longing to spend time with my Creator and Saviour. Recently at church the preacher spoke on a passage from the life of Mary and Martha. He made a very poignant statement during the sermon. He said, “Before we cultivate Martha’s hands of service let us cultivate Mary’s heart of devotion.” And that thought has really stuck in my head. Most of the time I find myself being a Martha running from pillar to post, serving the Lord. But the times I have intentionally chosen to be Mary, are the times I have grown in my faith and the times that my soul has been refreshed. May these verses from Luke 10:41-42 encourage you as much as they have encouraged me.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”